Serving universal breakfast after-the-bell is the primary reason that we are seeing participation gains in breakfast programs. Large urban districts like Houston, Detroit, Los Angeles, Newark, Chicago, Dallas, and Memphis have adopted classroom breakfast and other alternative models of breakfast service that have dramatically increased participation. States including New Mexico and Colorado have legislated that schools with a large percentage of students eligible for free-and-reduced-priced meals are required to serve breakfast after the bell; state superintendents of education in California, Michigan, Indiana, and Pennsylvania have issued memos that classroom breakfast time is instructional time in order to reduce the perception that breakfast eaten during class is competing with learning.
Whether you are introducing breakfast for the first time in your district, would like to expand it as a traditional cafeteria model, or plan to implement an alternative breakfast model, engaging the school community and building stakeholder awareness is essential. Educating your superintendent, school board, school site administration, teachers, support staff, parents, and students on the need for and benefits of offering breakfast is key to programming success. Unlike lunch, the benefits of children eating breakfast have been studied exhaustively and there is a lot of good Case Studies & Supporting Research that can provide you with talking points and supporting evidence for your proposed changes.
Cultivating relationships with your “breakfast stakeholders” is an important component of success. Depending on what type of breakfast expansion you are pursuing, the ease of gaining the confidence and support of your team, your administration, school principals, teachers, parents, and students can vary.
Typically, after-the-bell breakfast, eaten in the classroom (whether delivered or Grab 'n Go) is the most challenging. If you have assessed the sites, analyzed your school data and fiscal opportunities, decided which model you will operate, and can present the opportunity to your administrators as a well-developed expansion plan framed by providing the benefits of breakfast to the decision makers, you will be ensuring positive outcomes.
Establish support with your supervisor for the project and then identify the stakeholder support that you will need in order to succeed. Engaging key district administrators and principals early in the process will help your breakfast expansion flourish. Educating superintendents, principals, and other staff and administrators about the academic, health, and financial benefits of increasing breakfast participation in the district is essential.
If you plan to expand to Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC), your administrators can help the program’s sustainability by ensuring that BIC time counts as instructional time (see instructional time fact sheet from FRAC). Breakfast in the classroom typically takes approximately ten minutes and can work well with the first period routines of taking attendance, announcements, and turning in homework. Parents and students also play a key role in your success. Surveys, presentations at PTO meetings, and focus groups can be effective in responding to concerns, educating the community, and receiving ideas to solidify support for your program rollout. Visit our Case Studies & Supporting Research page for talking points.
Once you have engaged with the key players, you may need to revise or adjust your initial plan based on feedback. Flexibility and cooperation is paramount when implementing alternative breakfast.
Marketing Your Breakfast Expansion
More than any other meal, breakfast requires real engagement of the school community to succeed, particularly for Alternative Breakfast models served after the bell. Some districts form beakfast expansion teams comprised of key stakeholders who support marketing the breakfast program. Efforts often include branding the district’s program (see Marketing Your Program section) and pushing the message out through the media, the district website, videos, and materials sent home to parents (see a sample Pre-Launch Parent Letter).
The USDA’s School Breakfast Program website provides excellent tools for marketing your program including:
- Information on creating a marketing plan
- Marketing activities
- Downloadable resources
- Customizable templates for creating flyers, newsletters, and PSAs
Developing Frequently Asked Questions
Breakfast After the Bell! Appleseed
Appleseed helps bring better grades, behavior, and health to over 60,000 NM children with Breakfast After The Bell legislation.
BREAKFAST TOOLS & RESOURCES
Visit our Breakfast Tools & Resources page for worksheets, calculators, signage, guides, and more.
Register to Download The Lunch Box Tools
Please help us keep The Lunch Box tools and resources free for all users by registering here! It will help us demonstrate to our supporters how this site is used in school food work.